Researcher Says Houses Might Still be Contaminated Long After Meth Bust
When authorities discover a “meth house,” they decontaminate it by removing chemicals, getting rid of carpeting, cleaning walls, and airing the place out for a few days. Dr. Glenn Morrison, an associate professor of environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, is wondering if the decontamination methods are sufficient to protect future occupants from exposure to methamphetamine and other chemicals.
“Most people who live in a former meth house don’t even know it,” he says. “And some hotel rooms have also been contaminated.”
Recently, Morrison was awarded $116,000 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to research the interactions between building materials and the chemicals used in methamphetamine labs.
Methamphetamine cooks use a potent combination of ingredients, including ammonia, methanol, ether, benzene and reactive metals. According to Morrison, the chemicals penetrate into materials like paint, wood and vinyl flooring and then “slowly come back to the surface over time.”
Morrison is concerned that children who make contact with the surfaces will ingest methamphetamine. Also, he says, lingering methamphetamine can be released into the air, where it bonds with tiny chemicals that are floating around. This means it could be inhaled, even months to years after rooms were thoroughly cleaned.
“We want to be comfortable with the cleaning methods,” Morrison says. “Are these methods sufficiently protective? How much should people be concerned about living in a former meth house?”
Morrison is leading the Missouri S&T study in conjunction with researchers at the University of Texas-Austin. In order to see how the chemicals interact with building materials, they plan to examine samples taken from homes after a bust and clean-up.
According to Morrison, standard decontamination procedures may need to be amended in the future to include additional steps that are more technical.
Lance Feyh | Newswise Science News
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
New technique promises tunable laser devices
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...